What do CPU Coolers do and How do They Increase Performance?

What is a CPU Cooler?

Air cooler without a fan showing the aluminum fins and copper heat pipe.

The CPU is the brain of the computer. Therefore the CPU has to work very hard to keep your computer running which causes the CPU to heat up. If the CPU were to overheat it could mean trouble. Like anything else, overheating could reduce the longevity of the CPU and things could break. This is where a good CPU cooler can save you some money in the long run. Having a CPU cooler, cool down the CPU will extend the life of the CPU. It will also allow you to increase performance when overclocking.

How Does a CPU Cooler Work

To keep your CPU cool, the cooler absorbs the heat that the CPU generates and transfers it outside your computer. The silicon part of the CPU is what produces heat, and the metal plate on top of the CPU is what absorbs the heat. (This is also called the IHS.) A thermal compound is what connects your CPU to the CPU cooler. Having thermal compound connect the CPU, to the cooler will close any microscopic gaps that could be letting air through. (This is not good for cooling)

Cooler master CPU cooler

What is Air Cooling

Air cooling is when the computer uses fans to blow away the heat from the CPU and make it cooler. This happens when the heatsink of the cooler absorbs the heat from the CPU.

Next, the heat travels up a copper heat pipe. Spreading the heat onto many layers of aluminum fins. The aluminum fins have a very big surface area with many layers. This helps absorb the heat from the heat pipes and cools it down, so it can absorb more heat. Finally, your CPU fan blows the heat off the aluminum fins out the PC. Now, the cooler can repeat the process and keep your CPU cool.

What is Liquid Cooling

Liquid cooler for liquid cooling

Liquid cooling is when the liquid cools the CPU, rather than air. This can boost the cooling in your computer because liquid attracts heat better than air does. Connected to the CPU is a water block that contains tubes that allow liquid coolant to flow. Through the water block is the closest point of contact the CPU has to the liquid coolant. This is also where the heat is transferred from CPU to coolant.

Next, you have your pump, which is essentially the motor to the liquid cooler. The pump is what allows the liquid coolant to cycle through the computer and keep it cooled. Your liquid cooler also contains a reservoir that contains extra liquid coolant. This helps the cooler have a consistent flow of liquid. It will also help get rid of any air bubbles that form inside the tubes.

Then you have your tubes that connect all the components of a liquid cooler together. They are also what transfers the liquid around. Finally, you have the radiator. The radiator contains aluminum fins that absorb heat from the liquid coolant when the coolant travels through the radiator. As the fins heat up, the fans attached to the radiator blow the heat off the radiator cooling it back down.

Liquid CPU cooler with a pump, motor, tubes and a 2 fan radiator.

Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling

Now that you know a lot about both liquid and air cooling, which one is better? Well, the answer is it depends. It depends because a liquid cooler won’t have any benefit if your CPU is running at stocks speeds. If your CPU is running at stock speeds then your CPU will not need any extra power. Therefore, it will not heat up to unsafe temperatures.

Another factor that may come into play when purchasing a cooler is noise. This is because air coolers are significantly louder than liquid coolers due to the amount of work the fans have to put in to cool the CPU.

Also, liquid coolers cost quite a bit more compared to your traditional air cooler. Therefore, if you are looking to save some money and don’t mind a bit of excess noise. Then the purchase of an air cooler is just fine for your pc. Then again, if you are looking to take your computer to the next level and boost it to the max. It is highly recommended to purchase a good liquid cooler to keep your CPU cool and increase its longevity.

Lucas Coulson

I first got into building my own computer when I was around 12 or 13. The first computer I had ever built didn't work. So I kept researching to figure what I did wrong. I really enjoyed researching, learning, and building computers, so I decided to turn it into an online business, and here I am.

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